Kenya: Kalonzo Calls for Rejection of Punguza Mizigo Bill, Accuses Proponents of Harboring Ill Motives

20 August 2019

Nairobi — Wiper Democratic Movement Party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka has dismissed the Punguza Mizigo referendum Bill saying its sponsors did not front it good faith.

Speaking during a press conference at party headquarters in Nairobi on Tuesday, Musyoka urged County Assemblies to reject the Bill and wait for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) taskforce report expected to be presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta in September.

"We support national cohesion and that is why we are opposed to this thing called Punguza Mizigo because we are able to lift the vail and see the dishonest intentions. We are calling on the counties not to be hoodwinked by telling MCAs that money will be more in the wards, so they need to reduce constituencies. It does not make sense," said Musyoka.

He further said that the Ekuru Aukot-led Thirdway Alliance which sponsored the Bill did not seek public opinion thus the initiative lacks the backing of majority of Kenyans.

Despite acknowledging that the Thirdway Alliance-sponsored Bill had some ideas that could be incorporated in a constitutional review, the former Vice President said it was too late to include in the BBI report.

"There are some ideas we can borrow from them and put them together with the BBI report but it is too late because the question has already been put out there concerning referendum therefore the best way to ensure this bill does not pass is by voting against it in the county level," Musyoka said.

Punguza Mizigo Bill was given a nod by the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to be debated in the 47 county assemblies after the party mobilized 1.2 million signatures of registered voters, reaching the 1 million signature threshold set out in law.

The Bill is seeking to reduce the number of MPs and have a one term presidency with a fixed 7-year non-renewable tenure among other proposals.

The Human Rights and Constitutional Division of the High Court in Nairobi on August 13 lifted an order barring County Assemblies from debating the Punguza Mizingo Bill that had been placed following a petition contesting the consideration of the referendum Bill by legislative bodies in counties.

Justice John Mativo lifted the restraining order issued after Timothy Odhiambo moved to court arguing that IEBC failed to authenticate signatures of voters supporting the referendum bid.

Aukot has consistently urged county assemblies to adopt the draft Bill saying proposals made therein will entrench devolution.

He further urged all Kenyans to read the Bill carefully and not to politicize it.

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